Creepy Video Of Begging 'Doll' Has Saddest Backstory
“This is cruelty at its worst.”
It’s a scene so disturbing that people across the world can’t stop watching.
As cars speed past on a busy road, a tiny figure is shown begging for money while dressed in a hot pink tracksuit and an oversized doll head. Like a defective Barbie, the creepy figure sports pink plastic sunglasses and a frizzy blonde ponytail.
A car stops and the figure rushes over to collect some money before returning to its post — all while chained at the neck. A long brown tail gives away who’s really beneath the disguise: a monkey.
The video, filmed recently in Bogor, Indonesia, shows a scene locals know as topeng monyet, or “monkey mask.” It’s a regular sight on the streets as owners use the monkeys to rack up tips — but the masks aren’t the only scary part of the cruel spectacle.
Femke den Haas, founder of Jakarta Animal Aid Network (JAAN), has been working for years to ban the practice, an offshoot of the illegal wildlife trade.
“This is cruelty at its worst,” den Haas told The Dodo. “Wild-caught baby monkeys are forced to perform and are trained in such brutal ways to entertain the public and make money for the handlers.”
After young macaques are caught from forests and sold to their handlers for the equivalent of $2 to $7, they’re put on metal chains that they’ll likely stay on for the rest of their lives. As they age, the chains often grow into their skin — leading to tetanus and other infections.
Their canine teeth are also pulled with pliers so they can’t injure handlers or passersby.
To “teach” them to stand upright for their performances, the monkeys are often tied with their hands behind their backs and hung from their chain. If they try to sit or lie down, the pressure from the chain chokes them. The monkeys endure four to six hours of this torture per day, with the full training process lasting up to six months.
In addition to panhandling in odd costumes, monkeys are also trained to ride bikes and walk on stilts along busy sidewalks to collect more tips. If they survive the cruel training methods and lack of food, the monkeys typically spend up to 10 years performing before they’re sent to slaughter for use in popular monkey meat dishes served at restaurants.
Over the years, den Haas and her team have rescued nearly 200 of the abused monkeys from the streets of the nation’s capital and other municipalities throughout the country, and they now reside at a sanctuary in Jakarta.
In addition to rescuing them, the group has mounted pressure on government officials to outlaw the cruel practice — but the process has been slow.
“It has been banned due to our campaign in Jakarta since 2014 and in West Java Province since 2017,” den Haas said. “Now we are working toward a ban in East Java Province, [but] the government has not been very cooperative and responsive.”
While change is slowly coming for the monkeys, den Haas and her team won’t stop until the cruel practice ends.
“Yesterday, we rescued six monkeys who are now on the way to our rescue center,” she added.
They will soon begin the long rehabilitation process from the traumatic life they once knew — free of the masks that kept their pain hidden for so long.